Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Mystery of Life; My Starring Role on the Merry Go Round

Holes grow in my awareness. So many things I search for each day that I am certain were there. A reference in a book, where even digital search can't help me. But I remember so well the clarity that the phrase gave. Was it only in my head? "In my head?" Of course, the head is the locus of nothing. 

Soon there will be - if it doesn't exist already - the computerized ability to catalog your every action. Which books you read can easily be reconstructed by the trail of your searches. Looking up a place that exists only in that particular book. A set of words typical of only that particular author. Not to mention your purchase records and geographical pathways.

Just now money is made on all these things for their predictive value toward your purchasing decisions. But will there ever be a time when you will be offered your virtual self to patch up your own sense of you? Money and power make for such hateful relations. Who among us won't be brought low by them?

We are past the time when any individual can hold "in their own head" all of the things which might compose a good solid sense of reality. Just for recent instance, I've been trying to get a handle on information theory and its usage for the term "entropy." The reason is that I've just read this lovely survey of quantum gravity theory which speculates toward its end that information theory may be informative (ahem) toward resolution of the remaining questions. 

In information theory, "entropy" refers to the unknown information related to some random event, like tossing dice, for instance. Dice "contain" (imply?) more information than coin tosses, since a random coin has only two possible outcomes, while a di has six. Once tossed, information decreases in the direction of entropy. Now you know.

But there could not have been prediction. That's what random means. Scientific understanding relates to (statistical & stochastic) prediction, which relates of course to time. But this same book removes time from physics. Spacetime is not something real, it is constructed, rather, according to the very local requirements of thermal time. Thermal time is irreversible time is entropy as we know it from physics. Cooling off and running down is not reversible. 

Now this relates to information theory - it's in the chapter about information theory - as in information doesn't increase, but can only be lost (as random gets revealed?). But there you have it; a definition for mind: information increases in an 'understanding' mind. Learning to predict is how minds do so well at survival. Information is required. 

But it is just the creation of generalized forms, in the mind, which allows us to reduce the complexity of raw data. We recognize forms by virtue of unconscious practice. Our minds hold no information. Only computers do that. To be useful, the forms that we recognize have to be recurrent. We have to form them in three dimensions (stereoscopically), plus time, for predictions to occur in ways that help us to survive. 

Information theory operates at the same level of abstraction where math operates. It exists in the mind alone, and leads us toward the absurdity of constructing fully abstracted "meaning."

Well, I suppose that meaning must relate mostly to what realist Tom Wolfe describes when he writes about a horse deployed as stud. What I felt toward my children's existence. There must be something erotic about it. It's so tantalizingly there. But really it's just a category error. Meaning won't get you any closer to survival.

Well, unless all those random happenings are, themselves, some kind of manifestation of meaning. In which case mind expands as the universe runs down and round and round we go.

Which is to say that it's not meaning we should be after. Rather, we should be after keeping with the radical direction for life, which is guided through time by love. Love is time's definition. Physics has no definition for time without it.

The End

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